High Cholesterol Levels: A Common Symptom Behind Kidney Disease

Health Education
June 30, 2021
5 mins
High Cholesterol Levels: A Common Symptom Behind Kidney Disease

Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver and found in every cell in your body. Our bodies need some cholesterol to function properly. Cholesterol helps form cell membranes, hormones, and vitamin D.

What Is High Cholesterol?

Lipoproteins are particles that help cholesterol circulate throughout the body. There are two types of lipoproteins. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are known as “good cholesterol.” So-called “bad cholesterol” refers to low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Not enough HDL or too much LDL can make fatty deposits build up in your arteries.

When people refer to “bad cholesterol” or “high cholesterol,” they are technically referring to the levels of low-density lipoproteins in your body, not the cholesterol itself.

High cholesterol levels are widely known for being a risk factor for heart disease. But they can be one of many kidney disease symptoms as well.

Let’s take a look at what kidney disease is and its connection to high cholesterol.

What Is Kidney Disease?

Most people are born with two kidneys. Healthy kidneys function to keep the right levels of water and minerals in your blood by removing waste from your blood after digestion, exposure to chemicals, and muscle activity. Kidneys also make other chemicals your body needs, like renin, which helps manage blood pressure, and erythropoietin, which makes red blood cells. Kidneys make an active form of vitamin D as well.

Kidney disease is also known as renal failure. The main causes of renal failure are urine backed up in the kidneys, damage to the kidneys, and insufficient blood flow to the kidneys.

Kidney disease may cause dehydration, fatigue, itchy or dry skin, bloody or foamy urine, and hypertension. Acute kidney infection leads to sepsis, a severe infection that causes the organs in the body to shut down. The kidneys are among the first organs affected. Septic shock can manifest as confusion, shortness of breath, seizures, or a coma.

High Cholesterol and Kidney Disease

The two main causes of kidney disease are high blood pressure and Type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes. High cholesterol is a risk factor for both of these conditions.

When you have high cholesterol, your arteries are clogged with fatty low-density lipoproteins. This puts a strain on your heart, which has to pump harder to circulate blood through your body.

High cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes are more connected than casual. High cholesterol is often brought on by a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet that is high in trans fats and low in nutrients. Type 2 diabetes, a condition in which the body produces insufficient insulin, is often caused by similar factors. However, there is evidence that high levels of HDL may directly contribute to Type 2 diabetes as well.

Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

The best ways to lower your cholesterol are through diet and exercise. A heart-healthy diet high in fiber and nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, can lower cholesterol levels significantly. Salt and alcohol should be minimized, and processed foods high in trans fats should be avoided. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids may help raise your HDL levels. This diet ensures that less trans fat, which causes LDL, enters your bloodstream.  

Exercise has many benefits, including lowering your cholesterol by allowing the liver to remove waste from your blood. This also minimizes the amount of trans fat and artery-clogging substances that can build up.

Some people with a genetic or familial predisposition to high cholesterol may need to take medication to lower their levels.

For more information on outpatient medical care, contact BASS Medical Group at (925) 350-4044.